Family Law Experts Say Findings ‘Not True Reflection’
The latest divorce statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have shown the lowest divorce rates since 1971.
The statistics, published today (29 November), reveal in 2018 there were 90,871 divorces for opposite-sex couples, a decrease of over 10% compared to 2017 which had 101,668 divorces.
Unreasonable behaviour was once more the most common reason for opposite-sex couples divorcing in 2018, with almost 52% of women and almost 37% of men petitioning on this ground.
Family law experts at leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell say the statistics show that issues such as the on-off legislation on no-fault divorce and cuts to the law courts are likely to blame.
Expert Opinion“The drop in the divorce stats are two things at once: firstly they are not a true reflection of divorce in the UK; secondly they are symptomatic of the challenges family law faces at the moment.
“With no-fault divorce repeatedly being on and off the legislative table, it has left divorcing couples in limbo. I’ve had clients say to me, ‘I’m not going to get divorced yet because I’m waiting for no-fault divorce to come in’ – and it would suggest that some unhappy couples are biding their time leading to a lower divorce rate.
“Once no-fault divorce comes in, we believe divorce rates will increase just as they did in the 1970s when new legislation was introduced.” Zahra Pabani - Partner
Crucially, the ONS noted that an administrative backlog is partly to blame for the drop and that rates will most likely be higher next year.
Zahra continued: “The reality is that the courts have suffered through numerous funding cuts, and court employees are increasingly overworked and understaffed – delays are therefore inevitable and until this remedied, it will likely skew future statistics.”